Explore Japan Locals

Explore a wide variety of Japanese products born out of Japan's unique geography, diverse climates, and rich history. Find your own local gems.

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Beppu: The Wonderland of Hot Springs The “Onsen-Ken”     Oita is a beautiful prefecture blessed with nature, delicious food and some out of this world views of the countryside. But there is one thing that makes Oita stand out from many of the other prefectures. It has the most amount of Natural Hot Springs in the whole entire country! This is one of the reasons why it is called “onsen-ken” which means “Hot Spring Prefecture”. Oita airport is 1 hour 25 min from Haneda airport by air plane and Osaka airport to Oita airport which is around 50 mins. And It takes 1 hour Oita airport to central city of Beppu by bus. Oita station is an hour from Hakata station by train. We are going to introduce the unique hot spring in this article.     Myoban Hot Spring   The Myoban Hot springs are a collection of many different springs in the mountains of   Beppu. They have a variety of family baths as well as baths open to the public. Family   baths are private baths specialized for families or friends. Myoban’s Family baths are in   little quaint huts made out of straw. These are very personalized Hot Springs because you can enjoy relaxing with family or even friends. Myoban also has an outdoor bath with a superb view of the city. It is surrounded by mountains which makes for an incredibly relaxing atmosphere. After you’ve bathed in Myoban’s hot spring, there is a resting area right outside were they sell “Onsen Tamago”. It is a egg boiled in the Hot Spring water! It is   delicious and relatively cheap.         Hyotan Hot Spring   This hot spring is located in a place called “Kannawa Onsen” which also has a different set of onsen. Hyotan Hot Springs is one of the most popular Hot Spring in Oita. This hot spring is different from many others because it has a variety of distinct hot springs unique to Hyotan. For example, outdoor hot spring where you can enjoy the view, the one where you can wash your body while enjoying the hot spring and private hot spring. In addition, they also have two types of sauna (a very hot and a warm one), a waterfall hot spring, and a sand bath! They provide food, drinks and even “Onsen Tamago”. This is the place to go if you like variety.       Takegawara Hot Spring   Last but not least we have Takegawara Hot Spring. This is the local’s favourite Hot Springs in Beppu. The classic olden time style of the hot spring represents all of hot spring in Beppu. This hot spring is very unique as it has a traditional bath house and a sand bath. This is the must-go hot springs that you don’t want to miss out!      
Nature in the Hustle-and-Bustle – Muroran At the southwestern part of Hokkaido lies Muroran, a name which originally means “the bottom of a little slope” in the Ainu language. Founded in 1872, Muroran is a busy port city with a population of nearly 100000. Visitors can choose to either take a bus (which takes around 2.5 hours) or use the convenient JR railway system to reach here.     Muroran – A city brimming with beauty Surrounded by beautiful oceans and lush green mountains, Muroran offers its visitors exquisite locations to unwind and enjoy the nature. From the observatory of Cape Etomo built to resemble the bow of a yacht, you can observe the volcanoes on the other side of the sea as well as Daikokujima , an island amidst the blue waters. Cape Etomo is located at the western part of the city and is reachable via the local bus.     Walking along the nature trail beginning from the observatory at Cape Etomo, you can reach the Gin-byobu , or “Silver Paper Screen” in Japanese. It is a huge cliff that appears silver in color in the evening.     The silvery look of Gin-byobu stands in contrast with Kin-byobu , or “Gold Paper Screen”, on the other side of the city. Under the morning sun, this cliff appears golden brown instead.     Located at just a stone throw’s distance away from Kin-byobu is Cape Chikyu, one of the landmarks of Muroran. The breathtaking sceneries of the city as well as those of the Pacific Ocean are absolutely stunning, and it is no wonder that this location is consistently ranked first amongst all sightseeing spots in Hokkaido.   But that’s not all. From the Muroran Port, you can also enjoy a marvelous view of the Hakucho Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Eastern Japan with a length of 1380 meters, or about 4500 feet.   And of course, do not forget the night views of the city! Take one of the sightseeing buses (which operate between June and October), or a cruise (between April and November) to indulge yourself in the signature sceneries of the city at night.       A walk down memory’s lane As one of Hokkaido’s oldest cities, Muroran also offers a wide variety of locations for the history enthusiasts. The former Muroran railway station building, now also serving as the headquarters of the Tourism Association of Muroran, is the oldest wooden construction in all of Hokkaido. Built in the Meiji era, the building houses numerous artifacts related to the history of the station and the railway that runs through the city.       The Bokoi Meshi Bento The Bokoi Meshi is a traditional Japanese bento sold only in selected shops around Muroran, with a limited number every day. Created by the Sekine family, it is the signature Eki-ben , or “Station Bento” of Bokoi Station, yet another of Muroran’s historical locations. At Bokoi Station, you can also purchase many other kinds of souvenirs.     The Sekine family owns a café and souvenir shop at Enrum Marina, located at the Muroran Port. At the museum for seashells on the second floor, you can also look at some of their works as craftsmen specializing in shells.       For more information on sightseeing in Muroran, visit the website below: http://muro-kanko.com/            
Ishinomori Mangattan Museum The Ishinomori Mangattan Museum is located in Ishinomaki city, Miyagi Prefecture. Walking from Ishinomaki station one can see the manga museum from afar, its particular spaceship like shape makes it easy to spot. At the entrance Ishinomaki’s hero “SEAJETTER KAITO” greets you first to the left and the imprints of many famous manga artists are decorated on the wall to the right. The Ishinomori mangattan museum got it’s name from famous manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori, also known as “The King of Manga”, holding the Guinness record for most comics published.       First floor – Information desk and movie hall Upon entering, the museum staff wearing “Cyborg 009” suits will greet you and gladly help you in a wide variety of languages with the help of “VoiceTra”, a very intuitive voice translation application. They will also gladly hand you pamphlets in English and Chinese.   Although the museum has 3 floors, you only need a ticket for the second floor and the movie hall. The tour starts behind the information desks, with information about Ishinomori. Next you will find the movie hall midway to the second floor, continuing up the ramp towards the second floor there are explanations of how manga is written and small windows which look as if they were from a space ship.     Second floor – Permanent and special exhibition The first area of the permanent exhibition portrays one of the opening scenes from the manga “Cyborg 009” with effects mimicking the heroes abilities. The next room immerses you into the world of “Kamen Raider” with masks from all of the series from the first one to the very latest one. There are also 2 games, one in which you either transform into a “Kamen Raider” and have to actually punch and kick in the air to defeat enemies and another in which you mount a bike to rescue a girl. The next area holds some of Ishinomori’s original handwritten mangas, which are a total must see.      The next room is the laboratory where “Kikaider” was born. A fun game of unlocking a computer can be played next to Kikaider. The last two exhibits consist of the reception desk of “Hotel Platon” and Ishinomaki’s hero “SEAJETTER KAITO”, with dioramas featuring light and sound effects. There is also a special exhibition which changes every few months.     Third floor – Library and cafe On the third floor one will find a manga library and an animating desk with light boxes where the staff will gladly make a short animation from your drawings. There’s also the “Blue Zone”, a café that looks like the cockpit of a spaceship and has a view of the Kitakami river. The whale rice bowl dish is a must try specialty food of Ishinomaki.     The level of detail put on each piece of the museum is really impressive, as is the number of interactive games which are actually fun to play. The museum is always changing with new special exhibitions and activities not only inside but also outside the museum. At the end of the day one can go to the souvenir shop which sells original items only available at the museum. “Ishinomaki no koibito” makes for a delicious souvenir.   *Photos shown here were taken under the special approval for this article.   Not all areas in the museum are allowed to take picture.   When you take picture, please follow the direction in the museum.      Access   From Sendai station: Take the Senseki or Senseki Tohoku line to Ishinomaki. (Takes around 52 min./840Yen) Take the express bus to Ishinomaki. (Takes around 90 min./800Yen) From Ishinomaki station:  A 15-min walk to the museum.   Click here for the Ishinomori Mangattan Museum home page. http://www.mangattan.jp/manga/    
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